CA DOJ to investigate alleged evidence destruction in Vallejo officer's fatal shooting of Sean Monterrosa

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020
CA to investigate alleged evidence destruction in Vallejo officer's fatal shooting
California's Department of Justice will now look into the alleged destruction of evidence by Vallejo P.D. and whether any criminal offenses were committed.

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced late Friday night that the state's Department of Justice will investigate the alleged destruction of evidence in the fatal Vallejo officer-involved shooting of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa.

This announcement comes after the City of Vallejo confirmed evidence had been destroyed and requested the state conduct an investigation to determine if any criminal offenses were committed.

Becerra says the investigation will only pertain to the destruction of evidence and any relevant findings will be relayed to the Solano County District Attorney's Office for review.

"The allegations concerning destruction of evidence under the watch of the Vallejo Police Department are significant,"said Attorney General Becerra."For public trust to exist, each and every part of our criminal justice system must operate in cohesionand there's little room for error."

Earlier on Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an FBI investigation into the Vallejo Police Department in relation to Monterrosa's death.

ABC7 News has been following the June 2 incident, in which authorities claimed they thought Monterrosa was armed with a gun when an officer fatally shot him in the back of the head outside a Walgreens store. It was later revealed to be a hammer.

The family pleaded for body camera video to be released and when it finally was, key points in the shooting were missing, and the captain on scene was seen on video not wearing a body camera of his own.

"The police killing of Sean Monterrosa was a horrible act of brutality that continues to shake our Bay Area community," she said in a statement. "Recent reports that key evidence in the investigation was destroyed are deeply disturbing and highlight the urgency and necessity of an outside, independent federal investigation."

The statement went on to demand justice for Monterrosa and denounce police brutality.

"We must insist on justice and accountability to honor Sean's life and the lives of all killed by police brutality in America. Sean's killing highlights the urgent need for the Senate to pass the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will fundamentally transform the culture of policing in America as it saves lives," the statement says.

You can read Nancy Pelosi's full statement here.

Original story as follows:

Vallejo seeks criminal investigation into Police Dept. for evidence destruction in officer's fatal shooting of Sean Monterrosa

Wednesday night the city of Vallejo announced it is seeking a criminal investigation into the Vallejo Police Department's destruction of evidence after an officer shot and killed Sean Monterrosa June 2.

The City says it discovered that the windshield from the Vallejo Police vehicle involved has been destroyed, and the vehicle has since been placed back into service without prior consultation with the Police Chief or City Attorney's Office.

The City of Vallejo had already requested that the Solano County District Attorney's office or Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office conduct the criminal investigation on this Officer Involved Shooting.

The City has now requested the destruction of evidence also be included as part of that criminal investigation. Additionally, the City says it is in contact with the FBI.

The request is for one of these entities to conduct the criminal investigation.

RELATED: Vallejo police captain wasn't wearing body cam when officer fatally shot Sean Monterrosa

The city also says an employee has been placed on administrative leave while the City retains an outside investigator to conduct the administrative investigation into the destruction of evidence. The city did not clarify which employee or from what department.

Earlier in the day, ABC7 News I-TEAM reporter Melanie Woodrow interviewed Monterrosa family attorney John Burris and spoke to the Vallejo Police Department over email regarding the missing evidence. The city confirmed to ABC7 News I-TEAM reporter Melanie Woodrow it is a Vallejo Police Department employee who has been placed on administrative leave.

Attorney John Burris is questioning whether or not the department deliberately destroyed the evidence.

Vallejo Police say Sean Monterrosa was crouching down in a half kneeling position, moving his hands towards his waist area revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun. It turned out to be a large hammer.

RELATED: Vallejo PD says Sean Monterrosa was at half-kneel when he was fatally shot in back of head by officer

A Vallejo police officer shot and killed Sean Monterrosa from the backseat of an unmarked police truck. That vehicle along with the bullet ridden windshield is critical evidence according to the family's attorney, but now the vehicle is back in service.

Wednesday afternoon it wasn't clear whether or not the windshield had been destroyed.

Body worn camera video and Vallejo Police Department evidentiary photographs of the vehicle and windshield are now all that attorney John Burris will have access to.

"This is quite shocking to us because at the start of this case we made a request for the preservation of all evidence," said Burris.

In a statement on its website, the Vallejo Police Department confirms, "...the involved vehicle has since been repaired and placed back in service."

RELATED: Family speaks out after Vallejo police mistake hammer for gun and shoot, kill 22-year-old

"For them to put this car back in service and for them to destroy the windshield raises real questions in our mind about whether or not they were deliberately destroying evidence. I don't know if they did this deliberately or not all I know is we made a request for the preservation of evidence and it is not there," said Burris.

Wednesday morning, ABC7 News I-TEAM reporter Melanie Woodrow reached out to the Vallejo Police Department to ask where the windshield was and whether or not it had been destroyed.

In an email to Woodrow, Vallejo Police Department's spokesperson wrote, "Melanie, we are looking into it, but I do not currently have any updates on the status of the windshield at this time."

"For them to not make accommodations to protect all of the evidence raises questions about their desire and their intentions," said Burris.

The Vallejo Police Department previously announced it has retained the OIR Group to conduct an independent administrative investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

On it's website, VPD writes, "We will be asking the OIR Group to include an assessment of the evidence collection process and any potential policy violations in this case as part of their review."

Attorney John Burris is also questioning the Vallejo Police Department's announcement that the officer shot Monterrosa in the back of his head. Burris says he viewed Monterrosa's body and observed what appeared to him to be an entry wound in his neck in addition to some bruising in the back of his head. The coroner's report has not yet been released.

We reached out to the Vallejo Police Department for comment on this announcement from the city and are waiting to hear back.